UPDATED – ZONING: Breakdown of items on the agenda, GL Confirms developer paid residents to support

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The Hampton Development 4 story residential apartment building on Route 88 was pushed off – again.

Additionally, Duvie Holdings – 4 townhomes was also postponed.

A neighbor of the Spruce Street application just got up and said that Obed Gonzalez, one of the Zoning Board members, started working for his property management company last week and therefore, there’s a conflict and Mr. Gonzalez should not be allowed to vote on the application.

Mr. Gonzalez answered, “as of this moment, I am resigning from your company so I no longer work for you!”

Many neighbors came to the hearing.

The board said they will continue hearing Spruce Street on Aug 9.

They heard all (or most) of the opposition’s attorney’s and professional’s testimony.

On Aug 9 they will open the podium to all members of the public.

Afterwards, the board began the Covington application, but after half an hour they decided to close for the night and they said they will continue that also on Aug 9.

In short: no decisions were made on any application.



Two weeks ago, hearings on 3 big projects were postponed to tonight. In addition, a new project will be addressed tonight.

The original three items were:

1. Hampton Development LLC wants to construct a 4 story residential apartment building on Route 88 between Monmouth & Park Ave. The building will contain a total of 151 apartments, including one and two bedrooms apartments. The building will also contain “accessory uses” such as a shul, a gym, a recreational room, a business center, and a social hall.
Due to Lakewood’s wacky zoning laws, these “accessory uses” apparently don’t require parking, and the parking requirements for the apartments total 281. The applicant is proposing only 257, most of which would be in an underground garage. 
Lakewood’s height limit in that zone is 45 feet. This application wants a variance for a 64-foot high building. He also wants a side yard setback variance of 0 feet where 10 feet is required. Lastly, the developer also wants a 9-foot front yard setback where 25 feet is required. 
Oh, and one more thing: he is requesting a waiver from providing a sidewalk on the Route 88 frontage. Somehow, sidewalks are out of this applicant’s budget.

Related: Reader Submitted: ENOUGH ALREADY!

2. Bais Medrash of Pine Street wants to construct 2 shuls and 2 duplex units (4 houses plus basements) at the corner of Pine & MLK Drive (across from their current trailer shul). Their idea, reportedly, is to fund the construction of their shul by selling the duplexes.

It’s a great fundraising idea, though, interestingly, they requested a waiver from providing a traffic study.

Both shuls are deficient in parking spaces. One shul needs 26 spaces and they are providing 15, the other shul needs 17 and they are providing only 9.

It appears, that, one of the shuls will actually house the beis din that is currently housed in the First Commerce bank plaza.

Both duplex units are short on lot area, and one is deficient in lot width, front yard and side yard setbacks.

3. Covington Village Condominium Association previously received approval to construct 12 residential apartment buildings (with 30 apartments in each), on Locust Street near Vermont Avenue. This development is bordered to the west by Harrogate and it’s down the block from the Belz developments.

7 of those apartment buildings have already been constructed, and they are age-restricted. The remaining 5 have not been constructed yet.

This applicant is seeking a “simple” change to his approval – to lift the age restriction on the remaining 150 apartments waiting to be built.

4. 118 Ocean Avenue, LLC wants to build 9 houses on Vine & Spruce Street across Bais Kaila. This area is zoned for 1 house per 40,000 sq ft lot. This application is to build on approximately 10,000 sq ft lots!
Previously, the owner applied to build 10 homes here and after many neighbors came to oppose the application, the board – by one single vote – denied the application.

GL has already confirmed that there are many neighbors opposing these applications that plan on attending tonight’s public hearing.

5. Duvie Holdings – Ocean Avenue & Boulder Way. The applicant is requesting to build 4 townhomes. Previously, he applied to build 6 homes there, but, after numerous complaints from the neighbors, he backed down.

6. Congregation Maalos Hatorah, Chestnut Street, R-20 zone. This applicant is back once again with plans to extend Stamford Meadows. This zone doesn’t permit duplexes, but, he previously received a use variance for duplexes. He now needs final major subdivision approval, and he is currently applying to build a 22 duplex house unit development. Due to the many complaints about him now wanting to build a shul, he has agreed to build a shul in one of the basements.
GL has confirmed this applicant paid off the neighbors not to oppose this specific application. They will take the stand to say they support it.

7. David Herzog – north of Vermont Avenue, off of Chestnut Street. The applicant is proposing to build 20 new homes on as small as 13,000 sq ft lots where 20,000 sq ft lots are required.

The applicant originally planned to make the driveway only from the current dirt road of Caldwell. Apparently, after those neighbors complained the applicant switched to Vermont Avenue. The applicant also originally wanted a waiver from providing a traffic study, even though Chestnut Street is a very busy road
Last month the board Chairman told his Engineer that he must bring in a traffic study before his application can be heard.

Take a look at this traffic study! It explains why a 30-foot wide road will somehow be sufficient (though that doesn’t leave enough room for parking on both sides).

All the meetings are open to the public, and anyone who wants can speak on any specific application.

Two weeks ago, GL updated on the shuls and duplexes on Pine and MLK Drive, (item number 2 on the list) where one of the “shuls” will actually house the Bais Havaad Business Center (currently housed in the First Commerce Bank Plaza)

  1. The board asked what will be upstairs from the Bais Havaad, and the applicant’s attorney answered that there will be 8-9 offices. This is actually a very important issue because, besides for the beis din itself missing 8 parking spaces, they are not providing any additional parking for these offices.
  2. The main shul building has 15 parking spaces where 26 are required. The applicant’s attorney explained that “this shul has been operating for 3 years now with zero parking spaces, and also no parking problems, so obviously this shul will not cause any extra problems in the new building even with the parking variance”. After the meeting, a member of the public spoke with the attorney, who confirmed, that currently the shul only operates on Shabbos while the new shul will be used during the week as well. – of course, there are no parking issues!

Again, we are very curious to know why this applicant wants a waiver from providing a necessary traffic study.

The immediate neighbors of this proposed project came to oppose the application.

No one is anti-shuls or houses, but we all need smarter building – and we all need to play by the same set of rules.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Once again, I call on the planning board to halt the madness. Do your jobs. Thank you GL for reporting on this.

  2. Thank you, Greater Lakewood for bringing these issues and meetings to the public’s attention. Many people are fed up with the many variances issued to builders and with all the skirting around the laws and rules. The only way this will stop is if Lakewood citizens apply pressure and don’t allow this to happen. In my neighborhood, the neighbors showed up to a few meetings regarding one of these shenanigans and the project didn’t happen so far, B”H. But people don’t always know what is happening around them. So thanks again, GL, for bringing it out in the open.

  3. So SICKENING to see our Bais havaad who answers our halacha question has to LIE their way thru to build in a way that lowers our quality of living!

    • We assume the attorney was hired to do the job. The Bes Din likely did not know about his specific tactics…

  4. It’s a good thing that we have “frum” sites to oppose shuls.
    who needs outsiders to make problems when we have our very own Yevsektsiya.

    • In case you fell asleep before the last line “No one is anti-shuls or houses, but we all need smarter building – and we all need to play by the same set of rules.”

    • Did I miss the last sentence? It says “No one is anti-shuls or houses, but we all need smarter building – and we all need to play by the same set of rules.” GL does not oppose shuls, and neither do I.

      However, where do you draw the line?

      Do you think it would be ok, for example, for someone to build a minyan factory, with zero parking, on Route 9 and 9th Street?

      Yes, we all need shuls, and another amenities. But we also need places to park our cars.

      What good would it do us to have a huge supermarket with no parking lot??

      We all need to play by the same set of rules.

      It’s not ok to hire an attorney to outright try to sell the board a bunch of baloney. It doesn’t make a difference who you are.

  5. I live near this shul, I see lots of cars parked around the shul every night and the only reason there’s enough parking is because they park alongside MLK, Warren & Pine street, congesting the whole area I’m all for the shul but it should only be approved with the number of parking spots necessary.
    Not what people with another agenda feel is necessary,
    But what’s truly necessary!

  6. It would only be appropriate for GL to verify the facts before publishing fake news. As the last comment states this Shul is open every single night. I have personally davened mariv there on a weekday. So claiming that it is only open on shabbos is fake news. Once again the media is showing that is can never be trusted.

    • A member of the shul told me there are minyanim there only on Shabbos, though, there are people who learn there during the week.

      However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Attorney Abe Penzer told the board “this shul has been operating for 3 years with no parking and no parking problem”, and then, when asked after the meeting if the shul is currently open during the week he answered “no, it’s only open on Shabbos”. He then went on to shout, “are you a yid? Are you a neighbor? What right do you have to come and oppose this application?”

      Whether he’s right or wrong, he’s selling the board a bunch of baloney לפי דבריו.

      It’s not kosher to sell the board baloney just because you are hired and are getting paid to sell the baloney.

  7. To all those who are fighting Shuls, be wary, the protections the Shuls bring to our town may not include you!!!

    • no one is fighting the shuls. Asthe attorney said, the shul is their. The fight is about a new building without parking. Same would go for the Route 88 Shul. It currently has ample parking. The board would have to be crazy (or paid off), to approve it!

  8. what is the penalty for repeatedly pushing off a hearing because neighbors come to oppose? if you scheduled the hearing as a developer present it, don’t play chicken and run away and hope that eventually the neighbors will get tired of coming back. there should be a penalty for it, cancel the whole thing.

    • A normal board would not allow it. It is only because the board is complicit that this occurs, and has been occurring for a while.

  9. GL thanks again for exposing the madness. It needs to stop. For Lakewood, and all surrounding towns that see what’s going on in Lakewood.

  10. Neighbors of the Pine St shul who are opposed, do you daven at home? Which shul do you daven in that doesn’t cause congestion. Arlington and Forest Park are minyan factories, even Ingber has minyanim and night kollel where do they park? A bunch of hypocrites.
    Fact of the matter is that shuls are a necessity and that parking is an issue at practically every shul in town. If you live near a shul and have to deal with the traffic that just part of living in a Frum area, some people will have to give. And they will get their schar in olam habah for the hardship. But opposing a makom kadosh is a tremendous kitrug that I don’t envy.

    • Destroying the quality of life, wasting hours of people life weekly, creating excessive traffic that leads to accidents is a kitrug that I don’t envy. Lakewood has the most lenient zoning laws of any town around for building shuls. They should be able to meet that minimum requirement. Is opposing offices on top of a shul also a kitrug? There is a reason zoning laws exist, because a some point, if there are no zoning laws, a town becomes completely dysfunctional. Justifying bad decisions with other bad decisions is flawed logic, because each bad decision compounds the problem.

    • How about if they build the shul and Bais Havaad, and provide a proper parking lot, with no duplexes?

      That would be a true Kiddush Hashem!

  11. Unfortunately the majority of today’s dinin are run as a corrupt business. They don’t even pretend to to be upstanding people that abide by halacha. A new Bais din just moved to a private home on glen Avenue.

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